Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Land of the 11.41pm sun

I got wake-up call around 5am and was off the ship at Honningsvåg a little over half an hour later, and then making our way to Nordkapp, a rocky cape billed as Europe's most northerly point, despite the fact that the adjacent peninsula sticks out a bit futher to the north. There's no road to that point, so we stuck to the winding, climbing road for 30km enjoying the scenery revealed by the brilliant Arctic morning sunshine.

At the end of our journey, the visitor centre was full of other people from off my boat, and so Bondi & I went around to the globe marker monument. Bondi had his photo taken with a few other people, but each time we tried to get a photo of the pair of us, some other people would always bust through the informal take-it-in-turns line to pose defiantly while their companion fumbled hopelessly with the camera case. The centre cafe had a bit of a "Restaurant at the End of the Universe" feel to it, only lacking a talking reindeer walking about, offering prime cuts off its flanks to interested diners.

With this journey, Bondi and I (and the car!) have now stitched up over 114 degrees of latitude in the last 3 years, if we go look at our journey to the bottom of Tasmania in May 2004.

On the way back south we stopped in at the little fishing village of Kamøyvær, perched on a spit between two harbours. There was hardly anyone about and the few who were, hurriedly rushed inside and slammed the door. Like Vardø, these Finnmark communities are not the place to make acquaintance of people on the streets.

Comet ahead.

Now we had a3 hour journey to Hammerfest, with some very long undersea tunnels (4-7km each, 145NOK toll) and awesome views down the fjord. Crossing overland was less interesting apart from the odd reindeer or Arctic hare crossing the road, and I returned to the Stephen Fry audiobook.

We got into Hammerfest a bit before noon, beating the Finnmarken into port. I was really only wanting to pee, have lunch and a nap, so after a trip to the supermarket (sans lav), addressed my first and third concerns with a cabin on the edge of town, where I crashed out for 3 hours. I noted that Australian TV programs were showing on 2/8 channels: an episode of Home and Away and what at first seemed to be a period version of same ("Where did you get those shoes Emileee? From the blacksmith?!"), but it turned out to be some Man from Snowy River spinoff (I haven't seen the movies) called Snowy River: The Macgregor Saga with a lot of mustache-twirling and jutting-chins meets Ramsey Street acting.

Arctic Eagle looking for something to line the nest

When I got back into town around 4.30, pretty much everything other than the supermarket* and a pizza joint was shut. In the land of midnight sun, the business hours seem to be mainly 11-4. I gave Bondi a good walk before going back to the cabin. The views from there are priceless, and Bondi enjoyed several hours curled up next to the steps, sniffing the breeze. (Right now, he's back in the cabin, curled up on his mat, gently snoring).

*Still with paprika'd chicken, but with lots of reindeer meat options.

View from our cabin throughout the day? evening? Last photo at 11.41pm.

Hammerfest has long billed itself as the most northerly town in the world, such status it declined to yield to Honningsvåg when its more northerly neighbour gained township status in the 1990s. I'm sure there's a rich seam of other not-quite-the-most-northerly places in the area.

Finished reading Craig Clevenger's "Dermaphoria", some very exciting writing about a chemist who loses his identity as a side-effect of his work producing illicit addictive party drugs for some especially horrible thugs.

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